It’s felt like an eternity since the Montreal Canadiens last hit the ice, having nearly five days of rest after their first two games of the season. They finally got back to it last night, playing host to the Los Angeles Kings in the home opener at the Bell Centre, with the usual excitement surrounding the pre-game ceremony dominating the headlines.
Members of the 1993 Stanley Cup-winning team were honoured before the game, including assistant coach Kirk Muller.
Following the player introductions, the Kings and Canadiens showed they came to play.
From the opening draw, it was Montreal who began with a torrid pace, being instantly the more dominant team in the offensive zone, with the combination of Jonathan Drouin, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Joel Armia causing headaches for the Kings’ defence. Kotkaniemi, with his mother in the stands, was one of the bright points for the Habs, as he was doing everything in his power to get Montreal on the board early, registering four shots in the first period alone.
A slashing penalty to Adrian Kempe gave Montreal its first power play of the evening, and the passing and rotation was as efficient as one could ask for, despite not getting one past Jack Campbell.
It wouldn’t remain close for long, however, as the aforementioned Kempe would put home the first goal of the game on the first shot for the Kings on an odd-man rush right out of the box.
The Canadiens looked deflated after the opening goal, and it showed as Kotkaniemi took a hooking penalty, leading the Kings to their first power play of the game. However, it was Mikey Reilly who would take advantage of time and space, as he stepped up and had a short-handed breakaway, being stopped by Campbell.
Tomas Tatar had a similar chance later in the period as well once the Canadiens regained their footing, but wasn’t able to capitalize either.
Despite the strong start to the game, Montreal found themselves down 2-0 as Michael Amadio scored to give L.A. some insurance heading into the second period.
In the second and third, it was more of the same for the Canadiens, as their pressure and intensity were apparent throughout the game, but the home side was unable to convert. A slew of penalties for the Kings allowed Montreal various high-quality chances, but those were met each time by the opposing netminder.
The Habs best chance to get back in the contest came from Tomas Tatar, who rang the crossbar on a heavy shot.
Tomas Tatar rips one off the crossbar on the power play. pic.twitter.com/zynXTBqUGa— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 12, 2018
Midway through the third, it seemed like Montreal got one back as the puck trickled past Campbell, but after two separate video reviews, it was deemed that the puck did cross the line in a continuous motion after the whistle, but there was contact on the part of Andrew Shaw with the L.A. netminder, rendering the goal null and void.
It was as close as the Habs would get, as they were shut out 3-0 by the Kings at the Bell Centre.
- Kotkaniemi really wants to stay. I mean he really wants it. He received 14:23 of ice time and he was easily the most noticeable and effective forward for the Canadiens. He led the team in shots on goal, and is just waiting for the dam to burst. I’d be surprised if he hits the nine-game mark without one or two goals.
- Lots of the new guys are really looking good so far despite last night’s result. I’m really impressed with Domi and Tatar so far as well. Domi’s intensity has been one of the most impressive things, especially as he’s consistently the first one on the puck and never stops moving. Tatar had some of the best chances for the Canadiens, and is primed for his first as a Hab in due time.
- It’ll be interesting to see if any lineup changes take place before the next game against the Penguins on Saturday, especially since the Canadiens will eventually have to move someone due to roster limits. As well, the Penguins will not take their previous loss against Montreal lightly, and will come out flying.